Tuesday, 25 August 2009
At 7.00am this morning I had half an ear on the BBC World News as I was flitting from room to room, preparing for my day. I heard that South Korea had launched its first rocket from its own territory into space whilst I was in dreamland. The rocket, built with help from Russia was carrying a domestically built satellite aimed at observing the atmosphere and ocean. So dem say!
"Oh well" I thought, "what an extraordinary waste of money".
The next news item really caught my attention. Giant herd flees Kenya drought.
According to UN agricultural chiefs, a massive herd of cattle which numbers over 200,000 has fled northern Kenya into the Borena zone in Ethiopia to escape a drought. Migration apparently is normal but this is the largest number in over ten years. Added to that farmers are abandoning their villages in search of water.
Kenya's drought has hit the country's capacity to generate hydro-electricity and last week electricity rationing was introduced. Last January President Kibaki said that 10 million Kenyans were facing starvation. Today it was reported that school holidays have been cancelled so that children can go to school and receive at least one decent meal a day. Stocks of oil, rice and other basics are kept in some school areas and children are known to take their meal home to share with the family. A report says that there are enough stocks to last for approximately two months. What then?
More than half the Somali population is in need of humanitarian aid. Conditions in that country have been deteriorating rapidly since the beginning of the year. One in five children are acutely malnourished.
I remember well my mother telling me when I refused to eat something on my plate, that there were starving children in the world and I would think to myself that leaving my food was not going to help them even if I made a food parcel of it. Years later, I told my children the same thing and I suppose they too had their silent thoughts relating to my remarks and the food on their plates. I am fully aware that remarks such as those made to force children into guilt eating is not a good idea and has absolutely no effect on the needs of starving populations, worldwide.
I know governments are to blame for mismanaging their countries. I see it here in this country. I see the ever widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. There are starving families in this oil and gas rich country. Granted most have access to water but not all homes have pipe borne water. In this country which hosted the Fifth Summit of the Americas, people still bathe themselves at stand pipes on the side of the road.
We are living in an upside-down-world. We are doing nothing or very little to improve the lots
of the starving. Mia Farrow's hunger strike to bring attention to the starving in Darfur does not count.
I am appalled that in this day and age when countries in the Western Hemisphere are promising aid to populations in need as a result of bad governance, that a country has spent four hundred and two million US dollars on a rocket in an ambitious bid to jump-start its space programme. Not only that - it failed yet again. It did not reach proper orbit. What a total waste of money.
Just think what the people of Kenya and Somalia could do with half of four hundred and two million.